Integrating Simulations Across a Curriculum

Integrating Simulations Across a Curriculum

Robert Eugene Smith, Gordon Samuel Coulson, Wendy Smith Wilson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4087-9.ch008
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Emergency managers, firefighters, and homeland security professionals are a valuable resource at the local, state, and federal levels. Conducting live training and exercises is a high-cost endeavor, more so when the exercise is a “full-scale” exercise as identified in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) manual. In an online program, the cost of creating highly interactive simulations can be cost-prohibitive; however, simulations that are designed to challenge students and provide a quality learning environment are possible using a systems approach from planning to evaluation. Simulations creation is not difficult; however, it requires a team of experts to create a learning experience that is productive from the first course to the final course in a degree program. This chapter will provide material on one way to accomplish this. How others choose to create their program is based upon their degree needs, budget, and expert knowledge.
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Bahsoun et al., (2017) in BMJ Simulation & Technology Enhanced Learning describe the use of simulations for surgeons as a method of learning skills in an environment that provides repetition, safety, and no risk to patients. The FEMA (2013) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) Manual defines simulation as “(1) An electronic simulation is a method for predicting the results of implementing a model over time, i.e., modeling and simulation. (2) Simulation of nonparticipating personnel and agencies is a technique for increasing realism in exercises” (Glossary - 10).

Clark (2013), offers a reason to create learning using scenario-based methods. She presents the rationale for using scenarios to introduce the transfer of knowledge and skill to a profession using a specific design model for eLearning.

  • Identify the benefits of a scenario-based eLearning (SBeL) design for learners and learning outcomes.

  • Determine when SBeL might be appropriate for your needs.

  • Identify specific outcomes of SBeL relevant to common organizational goals.

  • Classify specific instructional goals into one or more learning domains.

  • Apply a design model to present content in a task-centered context.

  • Evaluate outcomes from SBeL lessons.

  • Identify tacit expert knowledge using cognitive task analysis techniques.

  • Make a business case for SBeL in your organization.

A “deep dive” was conducted on an Emergency and Disaster Management Bachelor’s Degree program at an award-winning online university. The deep dive allowed university and program leadership to provide resources to differentiate the degree program. Using scenario-based learning and simulation (text-based and a 2D/3D gaming environment), the instructional team created an environment of learning which prepares the graduates for entry into the emergency and disaster management profession.

Conducting the “Deep Dive”

Students enrolled in a disaster, and emergency management program may be employed as an emergency manager or are interested in becoming an emergency manager. A new or seasoned emergency manager must maintain currency in education, training, and exercise to be successful. Seeking a degree is one of the first steps many emergency managers may take on their professional path. Along with the regular classroom and online education of the emergency manager is practicing what they will encounter in their daily steady-state operations and during an actual incident.

Today’s technology provides instructional teams, media developers, and subject matter experts the opportunity to provide real-life simulated events using a variety of platforms and methodologies. A university with Disaster and Emergency Management programs must strive to provide students a unique and fulfilling learning experience.

Purpose of a “Deep Dive”

A deep dive report provides the framework for the design and development of simulations by identifying the goals, stakeholders, instructional design (ID) approach, requirements tasks, estimated milestones, and deliverables, along with any assumptions regarding the achievement of the milestones. Recognizing that this effort is unique to many degree programs, the framework is a living document and should be updated to reflect changes to the simulation program as courses change and emergency management policy changes at the national level.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reusability: A system within an instructional program where certain components of a simulation are created once and used across multiple courses.

Master Scenario Events List (MSEL): A document containing all major events and decisions that will happen during a simulation.

Differentiation: A method of evaluating a degree program and creating instructional components that make the degree program stand out from others in the university.

Simulation Team: A group of individuals within a university dedicated to the design and development of the simulations that are placed in each degree course. The team is made up of school leadership, faculty, and instructional staff.

Incident Specific Annex: An Incident Specific Annex is an annex to the Emergency Operations Plan that is a sub-plan related to a specific type of emergency or disaster. An example would be an Incident Specific Annex for a tornado.

Simulation: An experience which attempts to recreate aspects of authentic practice or events.

Emergency Support Function (ESF): The ESF’s are within the National Response Framework and are defined as Federal support provided to a disaster that has been declared a disaster under a Stafford Act.

Course Objective: A statement of an action that a learner should be able to perform after successfully completing the learning material.

Deep Dive: A comprehensive review of the entire degree program to include all instructional material, course flow, and alignment of material to the Course Objectives.

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